Throwback Post: Pomodoro Pyramid Technique

I recently covered the book Start a Freedom Business by Colin Wright. In it he reviewed a time management method called the Pomodoro Technique, which was developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. In a very basic sense it’s using 25 minute work periods broken up with 5 minute breaks. Work for 25 on a single task, then take a 5 minute break, every couple of hours taking a longer 15-25 minute break. There are several timers available that are listed at the bottom of the article.

While there are many advanced charts and studies available, I found this to work well. Come back in a few months and the chart might look different, but I don’t want you to wait that long to get some work done! Using it over the past few weeks, the true power behind this classic method made itself apparent. After a bit of wrangling around with figuring out how best to make use of this for what I do (writing, emailing, Tweeting, researching).

I thought it kind of melded with the classic resistance training method of pyramid sets. As you can see in the chart, I found that by starting out with lower level thought process tasks, working up to medium level, then having an extended period of working on a primary task worked very well. Followed by going back down the scale to medium and then lower level then helps you wind down for the 15-25 minute break.

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I thought it would be helpful to list out some ideas for tasks at each level.

Low Level:

  • Sending thank you messages to new followers on Twitter or Facebook
  • Scanning your RSS reader for relevant information to later posts or Tweets to promote friend/partner sites
  • Sorting your email inbox down to empty with intelligent funneling into Evernote 
  • Organize your bills into a stack of what needs paid chronologically
  • Go through the refrigerator and throw out old stuff while making a list for grocery shopping
  • Listen to an educational/business related podcast while you’re vacuuming or folding laundry
  • Clean out the wallet, purse, or satchel.
  • While this may not seem like work, it helps us here: setup a playlist appropriate to what you’re planning on writing about in the high level.

Medium Level

  • Take notes while researching topics for a blog or article post
  • Reply to emails that fall into the “needs action today” category
  • Work on a coding, CSS, or other bug or issue that’s been hanging out in your “I’ll get around to it soon” category for too long
  • Identify one client, partner, or friend per day and send them a non-sales email asking them how they’re doing and include a relevant link to something they’re interested in outside of work.

High Level

  • Work on writing an initial draft of an article, blog post, term paper or other intellectual project.
  • Work on one of the courses at Udemy that requires paying close attention and taking notes
  • Tackle one of the excellent Photoshop tutorials over at Tuts+
  • Hopefully you enjoyed this article and can use some of the techniques or suggestions mentioned. How do you focus and segment time? Let us know in the comments!

Pomodoro Timer Options

Pomodori – For the Mac OS X platform is the one we used for testing and that led to this article. Very simple, just a little app that dings at the 5 and 25 minute marks, and keeps track of how many ‘Pomodoros’ or cycles you log in a particular work session.

Tomatoi.st – This is a simple web based Pomodoro Timer.

MaToMaTo – A nicely animated Pomodoro Timer for Windows

Pomodoro Me – A free app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch that allows for custom timed Pomodoros.

Pomodroido  – A very nicely featured Pomodoro app for the Android platform with options for a ticking timer, break and Pomodoro times and intervals and whether or not you want the screen on or off during the sessions.

•••Update 09/03/2012•••

Focus Booster – This is a visually beautiful Pomodoro time that works in the browser, and also has Mac OS X and Windows versions.

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